AG Jeff Landry joins Governor, Coach O to fight coronavirus

From Staff Reports
Plaquemine Post South

BATON ROUGE – At a press conference today, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry joined Governor John Bel Edwards and LSU Football Coach Ed Orgeron to encourage teamwork in fighting the spread of COVID-19 in our State. General Landry’s prepared remarks are as follows:

Good Afternoon. Thank you for being here.

My name is Jeff Landry, and I am the Attorney General of Louisiana.

Let me say this: my number one priority is protecting the health and safety of the People of Louisiana. And we are united in this goal.

The Governor and I are standing here shoulder to shoulder, united, and that is how serious the problem is that we face.

I want to say to the People of Louisiana – these are extraordinary times and they call for extraordinary actions. But this too shall pass. The important thing is that we all work together.

As the Governor has repeatedly said, on behalf of our State Government, the measures he has taken so far are intended to delay spread of the virus. That buys us time, and time is our friend in that regard. However, time can also be our enemy.

We don’t want to be like Italy in a few short weeks – where healthcare providers are overwhelmed, where health care is being rationed, where doctors are faced with terrible decisions about who will get a respirator and who won’t. In some cases, they could be deciding who will live and who will die.

The Governor has issued increasingly more restrictive proclamations to address this ongoing and developing situation. I am certain that the Governor is as concerned as I am about the impact such actions have on our citizens and economy. As Attorney General – I am, of course, especially concerned about any action that would seem to limit our Constitutional freedoms.

However – in this special health emergency – he is acting based upon his concern, our concern, for the health and safety of the public.

We want all of our friends, family, and neighbors here in Louisiana to live and survive through this virus fight. We want to defeat this invisible enemy which has attacked us.

I want to thank Coach O for standing with us today to express the importance of today’s message. If anyone can express the importance of a team concept and what winning looks like, it is Coach O.

I have full faith that, in the end, we will win and we will conquer this epidemic as Louisianans have done before. And in this crisis, winning means saving as many of our family, friends, and neighbors as we can.

Make no mistake about it: we are all asking you to help us save lives.

Let’s remember our history. Teddy Roosevelt described Louisiana’s response to the 1905 Yellow Fever epidemic this way – this is what he said about us: “They took hold of it and after it started… they controlled and conquered it.” We can do it again.

As Attorney General, I have been asked by some if the Governor has the authority to take certain actions, like: limiting the size of public gatherings, suspending some legal deadlines, and ordering restaurants and bars to limit service. The short answer is yes.

The Governor, working with the Public Health Officer and the Secretary of the Department of Health, has a broad scope of authority in a public health crisis to protect the public. He could, ultimately, take more drastic measures. He has not done so yet. To date, he has acted with restraint and consideration for individual liberty interests. I appreciate that, as I feel strongly about individual liberties – Constitutional liberties.

He is asking – and I am asking along with Coach O – that people to follow these directives to slow the progress of the virus and ultimately save lives. All of us want these restrictions to be in place for the least amount of time necessary to address and limit the threat. Restrictions on restaurants and public gatherings are not done to limit individual liberty or political speech; in this specific case, they are done to limit death from an external threat.

My staff at the Department of Justice is researching and reviewing the Constitution and statutes that grant emergency powers to each of our State Branches of Government so that we can provide them with all of the legal tools available to combat this epidemic while preserving as many liberties as possible. I am making sure this is all rooted in common sense as well.

In some cases, we may need to make adjustments to make sure all proclamations stay within the law. I have asked the Governor and the Legislature to stay in close contact with my office so we can ensure his actions stay within his scope of authority, so we can protect legal rights, and so we can identify actions other officials may need to take.

But just like the team you see before you (including Coach O), we are all working together as a team in State Government. So, as part of that team, let me reminder you of a few things:

1. Be patient. We are all working hard to protect you and the public.

2. Please listen to the President of the United States and his Coronavirus team when they give us warnings and suggestions on how we can fight back against this virus.

3. Please listen to your State Government – Governor Edwards and our entire team – along with President Trump as we give you state specific information. As I said, we are trying at the Department of Justice to help find avenues to ensure we stay within the law and protect the public here in Louisiana. That could be bumpy, but we are working in good faith.

4. Please follow the guidelines including – yes – washing your hands for longer than normal. Keep our older citizens in mind and those who are already sick because every action you take day-to-day could impact them. Here are the guidelines:

    a. Wash your hands often with soap and water especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

    b. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

    c. Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. I cannot emphasize this enough. This can be a matter of life or death of one of your fellow citizens.

    d. Cover coughs and sneezes and throw used tissues in the trash.

    e. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

I will also, in addition to the Governor, be providing specific information which is important to the State of Louisiana.

With the Governor declaring a public health emergency, we are encouraging Louisiana consumers to be conscious of price gouging. We are actively working with local law enforcement on 51 allegations. If consumers suspect price gouging, they should report it to their local law enforcement agencies. We do not want people or businesses to illegally take advantage of this crisis.

It is important to note that price gouging is not attributable to verifiable market fluctuations. When reporting price gouging, consumers should include as much information as possible including: the name and address of the merchant, the price and receipt of the item or service, and their names, addresses, and phone numbers so they may be reached if further information is needed.

Here is one: please, please, please be careful not to fall prey to scam artists who may seek to harm you – especially our senior citizens – in the middle of this crisis.

I will be asking members of the news media and media companies to help me spread this message.

Scam artists using online tools, the telephone, or even the mail will try to trick you into spending your money. If you see something that concerns you, call our hotline at 800-351-4889.

Be careful with unfamiliar companies or websites who claim they can sell you hard-to-find products, usually with very high prices.

Never give out your Social Security number, credit card number, or bank account information over the phone – or on the Internet – unless you initiated the contact.

As you take precautions to protect your health, also be careful to protect your finances.

So, in closing, let’s all work together as one big Louisiana family to take care of one another.

As your Attorney General, I will work every day – and the Department of Justice will work every day – to help keep you safe.

We can win, and we will beat this virus, if we all work together.